Matcha has become quite popular in recent times, with matcha shots, teas, lattes and even desserts appearing in both coffee shops and health stores. While it may look just like green tea, matcha is prepared differently and has a unique nutrient profile.
To grow matcha, farmers cover their tea plants (Camellia sinensis) for 20 to 30 days before harvest to protect them from direct sunlight. This increases the plants’ chlorophyll production, giving them a darker green hue and boosting their amino acid content.
Once harvested, the leaves are dried, steamed, blended and then ground into a fine powder that you mix into hot or cold. As such, you’re drinking the entire tea leaf, not just the dissolvable elements. This means you get all the health benefits from the tea.
If you’re still wondering about how this powdered tea can benefit you, here are five health benefits of matcha.
1. High antioxidant content
Matcha is known for its catechin content. This is a class of plant compounds that act as natural antioxidants. One estimate shows that the number of certain catechins in matcha is up to 137 greater compared to other types of green tea.
Antioxidants protect your body’s cells by stabilizing harmful free radicals, preventing them from damaging cells and causing chronic disease. One animal study in mice showed that matcha supplements reduced the damage caused by free radicals and enhanced antioxidant activity.
2. May reduce your risk of heart disease
Its catechin content may also allow matcha to support the health of your cardiovascular system.
In 2001, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that catechins helped reduce the risk of ischemic heart mortality. Meanwhile, a later meta-analysis published in 2009 in the journal Stroke found that daily consumption of three cups of tea per day could prevent the onset of ischemic stroke.
In addition to these, the antioxidants found in matcha have also been found to be helpful in supporting the health of your arteries.
3. Supports brain health
In addition to helping keep your heart healthy, studies show that matcha can help keep your brain healthy as well.
During a 2014 study involving nursing home residents with cognitive dysfunction, researchers found that consuming 2 grams of matcha daily for three months may be effective in supporting cognitive function, even during aging.
Meanwhile, a 2017 study on healthy adults found that those who consumed matcha demonstrated improved cognitive performance. This suggests that matcha supports healthy brain function in young people as well.
4. May boost relaxation and mental focus
On top of supporting your brain health, matcha can also improve your mood and your mental focus. This is because, compared to other teas, matcha is rich in amino acids, in particular L-theanine. While most green teas have around four milligrams of L-theanine, matcha has 20 milligrams.
L-theanine is known to be able to support a calm and meditative state that’s well suited for deep focus. It’s part of the reason why the effect of drinking matcha is often described as a “relaxed alertness.” While the caffeine in the matcha helps your mind stay alert and focused, the L-theanine helps it relax.
5. Supports healthy metabolism and weight loss
Matcha may also help you maintain healthy body weight by supporting a healthy metabolism and fat-burning.
One study has shown that consuming green tea, such as matcha, increases the total number of calories you burn by boosting your metabolism. On top of this, another study has found that drinking matcha can boost the rate at which you burn calories.
Matcha is a special, powerful form of green tea that can provide a great number of benefits for your health. If you’re looking for an antioxidant-rich superfood that can support the health of your heart and your brain, try giving matcha a chance.
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